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By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria is offering to become an alternative gas supplier to Europe under sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union (EU) for its invasion of Europe.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, while receiving a delegation led by EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Samuela Isopi, in Abuja, said Nigeria was able to fill the void.
However, he urged the EU to increase gas and hydrocarbon investments in Nigeria to enable the country to meet the bloc’s energy needs.
The Minister’s call follows the simmering war between Ukraine and Russia, which threatens gas supplies to European countries.
Russia currently supplies around 30 to 40% of the EU’s gas needs.
In a statement released on Saturday by his Senior Adviser – Media and Communications, Mr. Horatius Egua, the minister said Nigeria was ready to step in as an alternative gas supplier to Europe, urging the EU to encourage its companies oil and gas companies such as Shell, Eni, and Total Energies to scale up investments in the Nigerian gas sector.
“One of the things we warned about earlier was how quickly the EU was cutting investment in fossil fuels.
“We warned that the speed was faster than they were developing renewable energy. You can see now that what we were warning about is what is happening now,” the minister said.
He told the delegation that what was holding back the growth of gas development in Nigeria was the lack of fresh investment, and called for a change of attitude on the part of the EU if its demands for increased supplies to Europe were made.
According to the Minister, one of the biggest challenges in the sector is the lack of investment.
“Over the past 10 years, over $70 billion of investment has come to Africa, but sadly less than $4 billion has come to Nigeria.
“Amazingly, we are the biggest in Africa. If we can’t attract investment to Nigeria, you know where we are headed.
“You are our long-time friend. To date, our gas reserve is one of the largest in the world. We have a proven gas reserve of 206 tcf and if we focus on exploiting gas, we can get up to 600 tcf.
“We are already building gas infrastructure such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project, which is expected to transport gas to Algeria, and the West Africa gas pipeline project designed to transport gas to Morocco,” Sylva explained.
The Minister further stated that after the Russian-Ukrainian war, the EU must have a buffer or an alternative source of gas, and collaboration with Nigeria in this regard was paramount.
He reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to work with the EU to bridge the gas gap, adding that since the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, it was evident that gas had been weaponized and unless it created a alternative, it would only get worse.
He reassured EU diplomats of Nigeria’s willingness to be an alternative gas supplier for the EU, but urged its companies operating in the country to invest more here.
“We would like to be reliable partners in solving the energy problem in Europe and we can only achieve this by working together. It is only when investment in these areas increases that Nigeria can fulfill this obligation,” Mr. Sylva said.
While emphasizing the need for technology transfer in gas and renewable energies, he said that Africa must be able to continue to exploit its hydrocarbon deposits to develop the continent.
In her response, Ms. Isopi urged Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the current crisis in Europe to boost the continent’s gas supply.